Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cuba, Democracy, and the Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI wants the government of Cuba to reform. The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the Pope's upcoming visit will "help the process of development towards democracy" in Cuba.

Despite the Catholic Church's oppression of Cubans and cooperation with the corrupt, murderous, but Catholic Fulgencio Batista and his followers before the Revolution, Cubans have enjoyed far more religious freedom under the Communist regime than under its predecessors. They enjoyed the right to not be Roman Catholic: to be atheists, agnostics, or Protestant Christians, or whatever. Generally speaking, when Catholics have been jailed, it has not been for their religious beliefs, but because they were working against the regime. The regime has promoted atheism of the Marxist sort, but that is simply modernizing and educating people.

That said, the Cuban regime, popular or not (more popular after the revolution when the sting of Batista's whips was still on people's backs), is not a democracy. It should become one. The repression of political dissenters is wrong, although all governments, including that of the United States, have always punished rebels, whatever the pretext for rebellion.

I know of no instance in history when Catholics have not imposed their religion on others when they have had the power. The Catholic Church is officially against democracy, as shown in a series of Papal Bulls over the last two centuries, which have never been retracted. The Catholic Church brought us Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini, and Philippe Petain, the great Catholic dictators of the 20th century.

Having lost World War II, the Vatican had to pull in its horns, and decided to cooperate with the British and American empires against socialism and communism. That was one of the great scams of history, one few Americans want to acknowledge.

The only thing that Pope Benedict has to offer the Cuban people is the usual lies. Some Cubans may want to believe them, but they are still lies. Jesus was not god, and even if he was there is no specific New Testament support for the idea that the Bishop of Rome should be the global Catholic dictator.

In England, usually depicted as the birthplace of our beloved American personal freedoms, the barons and people forced the evil King John to sign the Magna Charta in 1215 A.D. Later, naturally, King John tried to renege. "John was assisted by the Pope, who, as overlord of England, annulled the Charter and excommunicated all who sustained it." [A Manual of English History, Edward M. Lancaster, p. 63]

The Pope's repression of freedom in the Middle Ages in England was no fluke. The Church has consistently demanded to reach deep into our personal affairs, as Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and allies advocate even in these United States.

By all accounts most Cuban Catholics are nominal, much like most American Catholics. They treat the Catholic Church as some sort of ethnic group they belong to. They don't believe the Pope should be a global dictator. They don't go to church on Sunday, not because they can't, but because they know in their hearts it is a waste of time.

Let's not be fooled again. The Pope might use the term "democracy" as a crowbar to re-invigorate his power base in Cuba, but he and his cardinals are deeply devoted to tyrannical rule over their fellow human beings. If Castro had forced people to go to mass (and shot those who failed to attend, as General Franco did in Spain), the Pope would not be talking democracy. There would be hugging, kissing, and making mutual congratulations.

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